November 16, 2008

Matthew 25:14-301 Thessalonians 5:1-11 I didn’t want to preach on the parable of the talents this week. I figured that I’d preached on this text before, and I wouldn’t have anything new or different to say about it. I fully intended to preach on the text from Thessalonians about being children of light. I thought that since we have a baptism today, that would be a good theme. We would celebrate the fact that we belong to the light and to the day, not to the darkness and night. We would rejoice over the fact that God has destined us, including this child baptized this morning, for salvation. Not because we have managed through our own goodness and effort to earn salvation, but because in Jesus Christ, God has reached out to us in grace and love. I think it would have been a very encouraging sermon, if I had preached it today. But I’m not going to preach that sermon, because I couldn’t get the parable of the talents out of my head this week. You’ve likely all heard the parable many times before. It’s another one of Jesus’ powerful stories. In our Sunday morning bible study, we’ve been studying the parables in Matthew’s Gospel since September, and we’ve discovered that these simple little stories (some of them only a few lines long) are packed with meaning. Parables use the ordinary things of life to teach us extraordinary things about God. At first, they seem to be about one … Read more »

November 6, 2011

Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25 Psalm 78:1-8 Matthew 25:1-13 Recently I heard a preacher suggest that Christianity is unique in that it demands that you make a choice. You consider the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus that you read about in the Gospels, and you decide what to make of it. You decide how to respond. At some point, you have to make a choice about what to believe about Jesus. Either he was somehow the God of the universe made physically present in our world – reaching out, loving, forgiving, and reconciling the world – or he was a crazy person – living an itinerant life of poverty and getting himself killed. We have to choose what to believe as well as how to live in response to those convictions. The book of Joshua tells the story of the Hebrew People entering the land promised by God and settling there. It’s the story of God’s chosen people – the ones who once lived as slaves in Egypt, who cried out to God to help them, and who followed Moses out of Egypt, across the Red Sea, and through the wilderness for forty years. These are God’s own people, who have finally been freed both from oppression and from their wandering. They finally have a home – a place where they are no longer the ones being oppressed – and they have a choice to make. It’s not that they hadn’t made this choice before. They had chosen to cry … Read more »

November 13, 2011

Colossians 1:3-14 Matthew 25:14-30 “For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.” It’s a hard saying from Jesus. It’s strange, and jarring, and it seems counter to everything we know about our loving God and our compassionate Christ. “As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” This is the master’s response to the slave who received a gift, (just a small gift), and did nothing with it. He tried to hold on to it. He buried it in the ground. And after that, he wouldn’t be receiving any more gifts from the master. It reminds me of a story that I read recently: A man went each day to his back yard and uncovered his money, which was buried in the ground. He would then put it back in the ground and cover it up again. To his shock and disappointment, on a particular day he dug up the ground only to discover his money was gone!  He began to cry out in dismay. His neighbour heard his cry and came to his aid right away. Upon discovering his plight, the neighbour dropped his head, walked away and said, “What’s all the fuss about? You weren’t using the money for any good anyway! Maybe whoever got it will use it for some good.” The parable of … Read more »

November 20, 2011

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24 Ephesians 1:15-23 Matthew 25:31-46 I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty used to all this sheep and shepherd imagery in the Bible. Granted, it’s not exactly something I have a lot of experience with – sheep, or farm animals in general. But I think I get the picture of what it’s all about. The shepherd cares for the sheep. Makes sure they’re fed. Protects them from predators. Leads them to green pastures and beside still waters. Sometimes the shepherd even goes off to look for a lost sheep, if he’s willing to risk the rest of the flock. And that’s the kind of shepherd that God’s supposed to be – one who cares about each individual sheep and rejoices over every one that’s found. The prophet Ezekiel is one of the Biblical writers who compares God to a shepherd who cares for, feeds, and guides the People of Israel. They’ve had a number of human leaders ruling over Israel at this point, but Ezekiel accuses these kings of being false shepherds – looking out for themselves instead of the people, ignoring the needs of the people, and allowing them to be scattered. Ezekiel’s talking about kings that totally messed up – failing the people and letting them be conquered by foreign powers – failing so badly that some of the people have been sent into exile in Babylon. So now God will be their shepherd, the prophet tells us – the true shepherd that these … Read more »

March 4, 2012

Romans 12:1-8 Matthew 25:14-30 This sermon was preached by the Rev. Amanda Currie as part of the St. Andrew’s Stewardship Committee’s program “Growing God’s Gifts.” It is based on a sermon by the Rev. Kenn Stright. Jesus once told a story of a wealthy landowner who was preparing for a long journey. He called his three servants and divided his money between them, each according to his ability. To one servant he gave five talents, meaning a sum of money – almost unimaginable riches. To a second he gave two talents, and to a third he gave one talent. And even the third received an amount that we would find staggering. But there was a definite dividing according to ability… maybe a better manager, a shrewder investor, who knows what the ability was. Why is life like that? I don’t know. We are all equal in the eyes of God. We are all guaranteed equal rights under the Constitution. In an election our votes are all equal, at least if we take the time to vote. But when it comes to our abilities, we are as different as different can be. God simply did not make us all the same. There are some people here who can handle five talents; there are some who can handle only one. But we need the five talented and the one talented alike! There are some people who have great intellectual capabilities, and some who do not. There are some who have the ability … Read more »

November 9, 2014

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Matthew 25:1-13 “Missing the Party?” The parable of the ten bridesmaids is all about missing a party, specifically a wedding reception. In many ways, this parable goes along with another one that we are probably all familiar with, the parable of the wedding banquet. In the parable of the wedding banquet, the guests are invited to come to the feast, but for various reasons, they all refuse. They are too busy doing other things, so they don’t have time to go to the celebration. They miss the party. In the parable of the ten bridesmaids, the guests have shown up ready for the party, but some of them do not come prepared to wait for the bridegroom. When they run out of oil for their lamps and have to go buy more, the party begins, and they end up locked out. They miss the party too. Traditionally, this parable has been understood as an allegory of the “close of the age” – the “end of time”. The bridegroom represents the Messiah, and his arrival is the awaited Second Coming. Our minds automatically jump to conclude that the parable is about being prepared when Jesus returns so that we will get into the party that is heaven. Especially when we’ve just read the passage from Thessalonians about the coming of the Lord, this is a natural interpretation. However, some biblical scholars suggest that it would have been impossible for Jesus’ original audience to understand the parable in this … Read more »

November 16, 2014

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 Matthew 25:14-30 “Taking a Risk” The wretched slave cowers under the shadow of his master towering above him, and the master’s booming voice echoes around the slave… “You wicked and lazy slave! You ought to have invested my money with the bankers! Instead, all you did was bury it in the ground!” “B,b,b,but, I was frightened. I was scared that I would lose it and you would punish me.” “Well,” said the master’s authoritative voice, “That’s what’s going to happen now. Give me my one talent back, and I’ll give it to someone with a bit more faith – someone who won’t just bury my gifts in the ground.” As we just heard, there were three slaves in the story that Jesus told, and the master gave them all a bit of money – five talents for the 1st slave, two talents for the 2nd slave, and one talent for the 3rd slave. Actually, he gave them a lot of money. A talent does not refer in this case to something that you’re good at or skilled at doing. A talent was a large sum of money. One talent was approximately how much money a labourer in Jesus’ day would have earned in about 15 years of working. Fifteen years of work! That’s a huge amount of money, even if a labourer is not paid all that well. Putting yourself in the place of that 3rd slave, can you imagine being a little scared? That’s not the … Read more »

December 31, 2016

Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie The following are reflections from our “Watch Night Service” held on New Year’s Eve, and finishing up in the early morning of New Year’s Day 2017. Reflection #1 – Listen I want to begin with a reading from the Book of Lamentations. Yes, it is part of a book of laments – people crying out to God with their complaints and struggles. I think it makes sense because I’ve heard a lot of people lamenting about 2016: “It was such a terrible year! So many bad things happened! I just wish it could be over! Good riddance to 2016!” And I guess quite a few hard things happened in the world this year. People noticed that lots of celebrities died. But, of course, there were very serious things happening in Syria and other places too, and there was the terrible result in the American election too. And maybe some of us had some hard things happen in our personal lives too… deaths of loved ones, illness, injury, plans that didn’t work out, difficulties in our relationships, mistakes that we made and couldn’t correct… Well, the author of Lamentations can relate. In the section before our reading, he is lamenting and wailing and crying about all his troubles. And then he says this: Lamentations 3:19-26 I don’t think our troubles can be any worse than the problems of the author of Lamentations. So, we are invited to do what he did – call to mind … Read more »

January 1, 2017

Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 Revelation 21:1-6a Matthew 25:31-46 Listen to this Sermon “A Time to Welcome Christ” As we begin a New Year today, the passage from Ecclesiastes seems very appropriate for our reflection on the year past and our looking forward to all that is in store for us in 2017. The author of the Wisdom Book of Ecclesiastes helps us to keep the events of the last year in perspective, remembering that there were good times and challenging times, and that God was with us through them all. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted…” There is a time and a season for each purpose – good news for those of us who often feel like we are always running short on time. Of course, the poetic listing of those various purposes is familiar to us. Perhaps we’ve encountered the passage in Bible study, or heard it read at a funeral, or maybe we just know the song by Pete Seeger, later covered by the band, “The Byrds”: “To every thing (turn, turn, turn) there is a season (turn, turn, turn) and a time for every purpose under heaven…” But the passage doesn’t end with the listing of those various times, but goes on to reflect on the meaning of our human activities and … Read more »

November 12, 2017

Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25 Matthew 25:1-13 “Choose to Serve” Recently I heard a preacher suggest that Christianity is unique in that it demands that you make a choice. You consider the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus that you read about in the Gospels, and you decide what to make of it. You decide how to respond. At some point, you have to make a choice about what to believe about Jesus. Either he was somehow the God of the universe made physically present in our world – reaching out, loving, forgiving, and reconciling the world – or he was a crazy person – living an itinerant life of poverty and getting himself killed. We have to choose what to believe as well as how to live in response to those convictions. The book of Joshua tells the story of the Hebrew People entering the land promised by God and settling there. It’s the story of God’s chosen people – the ones who once lived as slaves in Egypt, who cried out to God to help them, and who followed Moses out of Egypt, across the Red Sea, and through the wilderness for forty years. These are God’s own people, who have finally been freed both from oppression and from their wandering. They finally have a home – a place where they are no longer the ones being oppressed – and they have a choice to make. It’s not that they hadn’t made this choice before. They had chosen to … Read more »

November 19, 2017

Matthew 25:14-30 “The Courage to Risk” “For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.” It’s a hard saying from Jesus. It’s strange, and jarring, and it seems counter to everything we know about our loving God and our compassionate Christ. “As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” This is the master’s response to the slave who received a gift, (just a small gift), and did nothing with it. He tried to hold on to it. He buried it in the ground. And after that, he wouldn’t be receiving any more gifts from the master. It reminds me of a story that I read recently: A man went each day to his back yard and uncovered his money, which was buried in the ground. He would then put it back in the ground and cover it up again. To his shock and disappointment, on a particular day he dug up the ground only to discover his money was gone! He began to cry out in dismay. His neighbour heard his cry and came to his aid right away. Upon discovering his plight, the neighbour dropped his head, walked away and said, “What’s all the fuss about? You weren’t using the money for any good anyway! Maybe whoever got it will use it for some good.” The … Read more »

November 26, 2017

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24 Ephesians 1:15-23 Matthew 25:31-46 “Thin Sheep, Fat Sheep, This Sheep, That Sheep”  I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty used to all this sheep and shepherd imagery in the Bible. Granted, it’s not exactly something I have a lot of experience with – sheep, or farm animals in general. But I think I get the picture of what it’s all about. The shepherd cares for the sheep. Makes sure they’re fed. Protects them from predators. Leads them to green pastures and beside still waters. Sometimes the shepherd even goes off to look for a lost sheep, if he’s willing to risk the rest of the flock. And that’s the kind of shepherd that God’s supposed to be – one who cares about each individual sheep and rejoices over every one that’s found: Thin sheep, fat sheep, this sheep, that sheep! The prophet Ezekiel is one of the Biblical writers who compares God to a shepherd who cares for, feeds, and guides the People of Israel. They’ve had a number of human leaders ruling over Israel at this point, but Ezekiel accuses these kings of being false shepherds – looking out for themselves instead of the sheep, ignoring the needs of the people, and allowing them to be scattered. Ezekiel’s talking about kings that totally messed up – failing the people and letting them be conquered by foreign powers – failing so badly that some of the people have been sent into exile in Babylon. So … Read more »